If you’ve been writing publicly for a good chunk of time, you tend to take it for granted that your readers are familiar with the running themes of your work. I think if you’ve only read a small portion of the approximately 250,000 words I’ve written here, though, you will have a good sense of my style and personality.
So, for those of you who don’t know, I love romance. I’ve never quite grappled with the why of that statement in an essay format, though I have my ideas. I’ve just always had a streak for characters who wear their hearts on their sleeve and make big, bold declarations, so something about the genre speaks to me. And I’ll reiterate here that my favorite romance is Horimiya.
Not too long ago, I wrote a whole essay explaining my love of the series; its ability to be funny, charming, and gut-wrenching in equal measure is nothing short of legendary. Actually, go read that post here. I may have written a lot on this blog, but I’m especially proud of that piece.
However, the reason I wrote that essay was because I despaired of finding anything that ever came close to what Horimiya meant to me. There’s so many rom coms and dramas I love, but Horimiya was special, and for as long as I had looked, I hadn’t found anything that came close, so that essay was my white flag. I reread Horimiya, deciding that I didn’t need to find a replacement when the original is just that good.
But as so often happens in romance, the moment you stop looking is when you stumble on what you didn’t realize you needed. Glancing through my queue on Crunchyroll, I picked Tsurezure Children at random; I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talk about this series, so maybe I had just taken note of its description, or the poster, I don’t know. In any case, this romantic anthology anime based on a four-panel manga could not have been better tailored for me than if the author was checking off boxes on a list.
So I’ve got a new obsession, and I need to tell you why Tsurezure Children is everything I’ve been looking for.
That Tsurezure Children is an anthology already piqued my interest. Taking a look at a broad range of couples at every stage of romantic development gives the series a wonderful sense of variety. I love when anime don’t waste time in getting to the confession, which takes up a majority of the first episode. There’s so much ground to cover in stories about relationships that you’ll never see if a show takes 23.5 episodes for the leads to get together.
Other than that, the episodes are only 12 minutes long, meaning the show covers a handful of couples per episode, each going over an individual facet of pursuing a romantic partner or being in a relationship. This approach to storytelling means that the jokes and emotional beats come fast and don’t leave the audience with a chance to get bored. It means that Tsurezure Children never feels like it’s spinning its wheels, even when the would-be couple are.
You’d think that the quantity of these couples in such a short time would water down the romance, but on the contrary. Each pairing could easily support their own series, but the appeal is that this story is all top-notch, all the time. There aren’t weaker scenes or tedious pacing because nobody has the time to waste on an episode where nothing happens. A character might show up every other episode, get their characterization and a few jokes in at a breathless pace, and leave without wearing out their welcome.
Tsurezure Children is keenly aware of its own strengths, as well as the limitations of its format and genre, building everything around making the most of what it has. By accepting those fundamentals as they are, it can afford to be as shockingly funny and emotionally resonant as Horimiya with half the runtime.
Although I will praise this show for being hilarious, I’ll admit that the laughs are far from painless. The series hones in on all the growing pains of relationships and puberty; I’m convinced that anyone, no matter their personal experiences, will find plenty of material that hits so close to home that they’re practically a roommate at this point.
Have you ever assumed that your relationship with someone was a lot more serious than it was? What about when your parents walk in on you when you’re this close to doing that thing that we all definitely weren’t trying to do when we were sixteen? Maybe it’s a cute girl talking to you and you don’t know why and you’re getting so flustered you want to die, only to realize she’s doing it because she knows it ruffles your feathers. I barely covered anything Tsurezure Children goes into, but I’d bet dollars to donuts you instinctively cringed at each of those scenarios.
I don’t actually enjoy cringe comedy. Secondhand embarrassment is so painful for me that I can’t force myself to watch people make fools of themselves, but Tsurezure is different. It’s not making fun of its characters being embarrassed; it’s taking a gentle look at an absurd yet universal situation. That kind of tact towards a sensitive time in everyone’s lives is what makes other shows like Komi Can’t Communicate so good.
The situations are hilarious, but they speak to a deeper truth that anyone can identify with, resulting in a balance of comedy with drama. We know she’ll say yes if you ask her out, you idiot, but watching a kid try to work up the nerve to get the words out is downright harrowing.
The unfortunate truth of shorter series like this is that I can praise them for getting to the point and not overstaying their welcome, but they manage to lodge themselves in my brain and make me wish we got more. Where’s the second season of Today’s Menu for the Emiya House?
Despite my disappointment in that immutable truth, that all things must end, I am comforted by the fact that my search was not in vain. Sure, most anime won’t presume to be as special to me as Horimiya, but they do exist, and I just need to look.
The good news is that this just gives me an excuse to binge a lot more romance anime until I’m confident I’ve dug up enough to last me, oh, I don’t know, the rest of my life. Not that I need an excuse to binge more anime, but as long as I will, I’ll keep bringing the best (and worst) of those I watch to you guys.
So, rather than ask for your recommendations about what could possibly replace Horimiya, as I’ve done half a dozen times before, just tell me your favorite romance down in the comments, or over on Twitter, @ExhibitionOtaku. Until next time, thanks for reading.